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From the Bench to the Beach

by silverquill12


EXT. BENCH. DAY.

Two strangers sit on a bench.

STRANGER 1

So. You come here often?

STRANGER 2

Hm? Oh, no. I’m in from out of town, actually. Visiting my mother.

STRANGER 1

Huh. That’s cool. Are you enjoying it?

STRANGER 2

Um… yeah? I like that sushi place. I don’t really have places like that at home.

STRANGER 2 smiles reluctantly. STRANGER 1 returns it, more genuinely.

STRANGER 1

It is really good. Yeah, um… I like it too. Have you gone to the beach yet?

STRANGER 2

There’s a beach?

STRANGER 1

Yep! Just around that corner. You can’t miss it.

STRANGER 1 gestures down the road, pointing at a bend.

STRANGER 1

There’s a pathway somewhere. It has sand, so… you shouldn’t miss it!

STRANGER 2

Thanks!

STRANGER 2 collects their belongings and goes down the road, following the directions given by STRANGER 1. Zoom on a newspaper kiosk by the bench. Headlines read “Three perish on South County Shore: Mayor discusses plans to close” and “Deaths caused by rocky beach lead Mayor to deliberate solutions”.

STRANGER 1 stays on the bench, studying their surroundings. STRANGER 3 approaches and sits next to them. STRANGER 3 looks down at their phone. STRANGER 1 studies them.

STRANGER 1

So. You come here often?


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298 Reviews


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Sun Apr 26, 2020 8:26 am
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Kassiani wrote a review...



Hello and Happy Review Day!

OOOH, this was spooky! I love that. I also really like that you didn't overdo it. This is my favorite kind of ghost story: simple, effective, the kind of thing you can actually imagine a friend of yours telling you during a round of "have you ever had a paranormal encounter?" It reminded me a bit of this short film, and I mean that as a compliment because I like that film a lot. This piece, however, was subtler and more simplistic, and I think that approach worked. It made the creepiness stand out all the more, taking the audience by surprise after coming across, initially, like a standard slice-of-life story. And I love the way it ends: so abruptly, with the opening line of dialogue now used as the closing line—a choice that suggests repetition in the ghost's (after)life, like maybe they're stuck there, in a loop, unable to move on. Good stuff. And I think it's cool that we don't see how that final interaction progresses: you've given us all the clues, we know what's up, there's no need to show us something more, so you're wise to end things right where you do.

The only "drawback" is that it does make for a very short piece, but I don't think that's an issue. I could see this making an effective, chilling short film. I suppose you could expand on it a bit, but I worry that if you did, it would ruin the simplicity. I like that this piece leaves your reader/audience with some lingering questions. I like that it's a tiny, unsettling, super-efficient mini-script. I don't want that to be interfered with because it's one of the reasons this piece even works. But I would love to see what you could do with an extended script—say, a short film that's not quite so short (like a 15+ minute watch)—that's unrelated to this story yet involves similar themes of subtle horror/supernaturalism. I'd definitely be interested in seeing more scary stories from you—this one showed a lot of promise.

Ordinarily I'd hassle you about the formatting, but one of the previous reviewers already mentioned that, so I guess I won't bother. Maybe one point of criticism is that the premise isn't particularly original—lots of stories have been centered on interactions with the dead, often set at (or involving) the place of the ghost's death, and many times, the ghost is seemingly "stuck" at the scene of their death and trying to lure others in. That doesn't bother me though. I mean, these stories exist for a reason: they're chilling and effective. I don't mind seeing another take on it, so long as the take is entertaining. In this particular piece, I don't think you did much to change the story or make it your own, but you did utilize simplicity in such a way to keep the piece engaging and prevent it from wearing out its welcome (which is another reason why that sudden ending—leaving the audience almost as soon as they've figured out what's going on—works so well).

Anyway, onto some nitpicks...

STRANGER 1

Yep! Just around that corner. You can’t miss it.

STRANGER 1

There’s a pathway somewhere. It has sand, so… you shouldn’t miss it!

So, you have the character say some variation of "you can't miss it" twice, and very close together. On the one hand, I get why you might've done this—there's something foreboding about this line, and a little bit of dramatic irony in suggesting that the beach is impossible to miss when it's also so easy to fall prey to—but I do think the repetition is unnecessary, and the line would be subtler (and arguably even more foreboding) if only used once. For that reason, I'd suggest changing the second sentence to this: "There’s a pathway somewhere. Just look for the sand." Or perhaps: "There’s a pathway somewhere. It has sand, so… it's easy to find."

Headlines read “Three perish on South County Shore: Mayor discusses plans to close” and “Deaths caused by rocky beach lead Mayor to deliberate solutions”.

The period at the end should go inside the quotations.

Anyway, I think that's all I've gotta say on this. Ultimately, I liked it a lot—gave me a quick jolt of "ooh, ghost story!" creepiness, without overstaying its welcome or laying on the paranormal stuff too thick. (No jump scares—yay.) Nice work! Hope to see more stuff like this from you in the future. :)




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Thu Apr 02, 2020 11:14 pm
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Alfonso22 wrote a review...



Thanks for sharing this very unusual composition. I like the simplistic approach. Reminds me of the way in which Hemingway sometimes had his characters reveal so much about themselves while saying so little. I also was very pleased with the manner in which such a simple scenario as a bench with strangers arriving and meeting stranger number one, can contain so much inherent drama that is masked by the seemingly simple and seemingly harmless dialogue.

The only thing that threw me off is that I found the pronoun usage of "them", and their confusing. You see, you seem to be using the singular noun "stranger" to refer to the plural pronoun "them" and seem to be using the plural possessive "pronoun "their to refer to the singular noun "stranger".

Of course, upon closer examination, one can unravel this apparent confusion. But unraveling it took me approx five minutes, when I should have been reading smoothly to the end. When I finally did, I realized that the story is indeed dramatic and I like the way that the action tells us all we needed to know about the motives of stranger 1, to send any other stranger who might join him at that bench to his death.

BTW
It seems as if stranger two returned to the bench unharmed since both are joined by stranger number three. That is a bit confusing. Also, why does stranger two feel he has the right to take THEIR belongings on his short walk towards the beach? One would expect stranger one to object to that gesture. Hard to come up with a logical satisfactory explanation. Care to explain?

I know it's a script but scripts must also be logical.






As someone who frequently brushes off technicalities of grammar, I understand your confusion. I am to blame for using plural pronouns. I wanted to keep the strangers' genders unknown, just for purposes of interpretation. However, the only way I could do this correctly would be to say "his or her" or "he or she" and so forth, which I find gets very wordy and doesn't work with my style. I just revert to using their. Sorry for the confusion. Just remember that whenever they or their is used as a pronoun in this, I mean it do be singular. To answer your other question regarding stranger 2: I never say they return from the beach (haha, there's the "they" again). Only stranger 1 is joined by stranger 3. Sorry if this was confusing. Thanks for the review, though. It is refreshing to see others' views on my piece.



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Thu Apr 02, 2020 10:55 pm
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koinoyokan wrote a review...



I really like the narrative and scene-building you are doing here. There are so many ways you could build this into a longer scene and or story. As this is a script your doing a good job of focusing more on the dialogue then the scene describes, which should always be seen as broad strokes for a director to interpret further. My only point of criticism would be the layout. Layout in scriptwriting is incredibly important if you were ever to write a full 120 so page movie script no one would take it seriously if the layout is not what is standardized in the community. You can look up what the layout should look like. Word has a pretty good blank templet to work with, its not perfect but it does the job. And there are some free sites that do the same thing. It also makes writing the script much faster since your not constantly changing indents and capitalizations. Another than that great start to a horror movie.






Yes, thanks for your concern! I do know how to format a script- just was feeling a bit lazy as well as out of practice. I have an account on CeltX. Also when you publish stuff on here, there is only one font and Courier is not it. Thanks for your review!




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